4, 2010 - Gilli Bodo, Flores, Indonesia
Happy 10th Birthday Grant!!!! We had a fantastic
celebration for Grant’s turn to double digits on the beach of the beautiful island of Gilli Bodo. It
was a fun day of tug of war, water balloon fights, kayaking, tubing, and playing football; followed by, Grant’s favorite
meal of ham and rice, movie, and sleepover on Imagine. One of the best parts about home schooling is that
no one has to do school on their birthday (even the teacher). So while Caroline and Noah completed school,
Grant went fishing and tubing with his Dad. Later, we celebrated with four other kids from the boats Orono
I, Finale, and Tin Soldier and had a great day. Since Grant finally hit the double digits he was surprised
to receive a very special birthday present of his very own pocket knife - Mom’s hoping that I don’t regret that
decision. But really, how can a kid play Lord of the Flies almost everyday without his own pocketknife?
Boat kids’ birthdays are one of my favorite parts of the trip. The parties are fun and basic, just
like they were when we were kids….simple games, simple food, and lots of free play. There is no
hired entertainment, no catered food, and NO GOODIE BAGS! It is a stress free occasion
for both the birthday kid and, of course, the mom. But, by far, the best part, are the presents.
Since we all live out here on boats with limited access to Target, the kids make presents for each other which usually
consist of jewelry, artwork, legos, special cards, etc. It is absolutely wonderful! We
recently went to the 12th birthday party of a friend on a boat - Caroline made him a shark tooth necklace, Grant
worked extra hard to finish a book that he knew that he would like, and Noah made him a Lego bird. In a
world full of materialism, what a refreshing experience. Grant just loved all of his “special”
presents and had very, very happy 10th birthday.
12, 2010 - Komodo National Park, Indonesia
When we left Chicago, two years ago, everyone wanted to know what we
are looking the most forward to seeing. Grant and Noah always answered the question the same - the pyramids,
Galapagos, and the Komodo Dragons. So here we are in Indonesia and it‘s, two down - one to go.
Although, living with two young boys who both love reptiles, we were very knowledgeable on the legendary “dragons”.,
we knew very little about the actual area and the beautiful Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes
several islands and an incredibly rich marine ecosystem. We started our visit to the Park by arriving on
the island of Rincca, which along with Komodo are the only two places in the world where the Komodo dragons live in the wild.
We paid approximately $125 US for a six day pass for the islands that encompass the National Park, which actually seemed
expensive for Indonesian standards. But this was probably less than we paid a few years
ago to see the one touring Komodo dragon at the Shedd Aquarium. Although there were anchorages we
could have gone to that allowed us to see the dragons without a ranger, a very cautious Mom decided that the only way that
we were going to see these deadly animals was with a ranger with his big stick between us and them.
For those of you who have not been reading reptile books for the past several years, here is some info on the Komodo dragons.
Actually monitor lizards, at 10 ft long and almost 200 lbs, the Komodo dragons are the largest lizards known to man.
They feed on animals, such as, deer, water buffalo, and wild pig. To tackle these large prey, they
ambush their victims, bite it and then stalk it while they wait for the deadly bacteria that is in their mouth to take effect.
Sometimes, they have to wait up two weeks for the large animals to die. Since the adult dragons
are also cannibalistic, the young dragons are forced to live in trees until they are five years old. With
only about 2500 dragons that are currently living on Rincca and Komodo, they are now a protected species.
the one hour ranger led tour, we saw approximately 50 dragons. Most of which were lounging under the rangers’
homes and kitchen. All buildings are on stilts in the National Park for obvious reasons;
although interesting these creatures would not be a welcome bed partner. During the heat of the day, the
dragons spend most of their time lounging in the shade and only moved when they were prodded by the ranger’s big stick. However, when they did move you could see the power in their
stride and their tails, and I was thankful that we weren’t witnessing them during feeding time.
witnessing these giants in nature, we left the dragon islands and enjoyed the quiet outer islands of the park where spent
the rest of our time enjoying the incredibly clear waters of the National Park. There were times, when
we could actually see from our deck the fish and coral almost 30 feet below Imagine. We spent many hours
in the water swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The water was so clear and calm that Caroline and
Grant even accompanied Marc on some short scuba dives around the boat. They both LOVED it and I think that
PADI certifications will be in their futures when they turn 12.
We spent time with some N. American
friends on the boats; Esprit (Jamie-Age 13), Tin Soldier (Jaryd-Age 14), and Linda. The kids all
played, while the adults scuba dove and socialized. It was just a peaceful and beautiful place to
hang out for awhile.
20, 2010 - Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Well there is no such thing as a peaceful passage in Indonesia. Although under most circumstances, the
winds are light and the seas are calm in these waters, the huge numbers of local fishing boats, platforms, and nets make for
challenging and not-so-restful overnight passages. As you are sailing through the night,
watching the many, many local fishing boats semi-lit throughout the waters, you quickly become aware of why there are concerns
about “over fishing” in this area. There are boats everywhere! Although,
most of them are lit to some degree (but the Christmas lights strung along the bow are not even remotely close to the proper
lighting for international waters), many conserve power by leaving their lights off until they see a boat coming straight.
Imagine how freaked I was at 3 AM on watch when about ½ mile ahead of us, all of a sudden I see lights flashing
and coming straight toward us. The other scary occurrence in Indonesian water are the fishing platforms
that just appear out of nowhere in 500 ft of water. These are not large, well lit platforms, no, picture two barrels held together with rope with palm branches and leaves
attached to them with absolutely no lights. We were not keen to hit one of those in the middle of the night.
So watches for us on this two night passage consisted of constantly scanning the horizon; using a spotlight at times
searching for anything that might be hiding in the water.
But I have to say that we were well
rewarded for our efforts when we arrived at the little Paradise island of Gili Air. Now we aren’t
talking Ritz Carlton Paradise, we are still in Indonesia don’t forget ,but this was one of the cutest, quaintest little
places that we have ever been. This clean, rural island, where the only transportation (other
than your own two feet) are pony drawn carriages, was a perfect place for a little respite after the stressful passages.
The thin, quiet beaches were fringed with small cafes and bars with outside huts to lounge in for the day.
Just buy a couple of Bintangs (local brews) and spend the day playing Scrabble in the huts, bargaining with the locals
for freshwater pearls and sarongs, and relaxing, relaxing, relaxing. And since the meals, beers, sodas,
and ice cream were still Indonesia “cheap” we all (especially Jane) enjoyed eating out many nights with friends…how
could you turn down a $6 Filet Mignon. As predicted, Caroline and Grant have caught the scuba bug and participated
in a one day course and their first official dive. They absolutely loved, and I think that our next big
purchase will be a kid size BCD and tank. As if the location, wasn’t perfect enough, there were also 14 boat kids there
to swim, kayak, and just play. What a way to vacation!